Yesterday, Deaf Australia celebrated all people who live with disability, as well as celebrating their families and carers. Deaf Australia takes particular interest in deaf and hard of hearing people and these communities in Australia and thanks them for their contribution to the wider Australian community.
The deaf community is a rich and diverse one, and for many, Auslan (Australian Sign Language) is their primary language and the language that they express themselves most freely with. The United Nations Convention on Rights of Persons with Disabilities calls for recognition and promotion of the use of sign language.
Deaf people throughout Australia still experience inequality and discrimination in their everyday lives as services and supports are minimal and there is still a public perception that deaf people are a burden simply because they use sign language.
Access to information is crucial for everyone, including deaf people.
Deaf people are currently experiencing overt and passive discrimination in many ways, such as:
- limited access to communication support in TAFE
- Deaf people are still unable to serve as a members of a jury
- there is deregulation of captioning services on TV
- cuts to Auslan courses from TAFE
- limited access to emergency announcements in Auslan.
Until equality and full inclusion is achieved, we continue to work with various stakeholders and governments to advocate and lobby on behalf of all Deaf people. Current risk of defunding Deaf Australia and other disability organisations as national peak organisations will severely damage the cause for full inclusion for people with disabilities and directly affect deaf and disabled people in their everyday lives.
Deaf Australia would like to acknowledge the following particular people and organisations that have achieved success in 2014:
- Bruce Muller (SA) – obtained Queen’s honour – OAM.
- Anthony Hastings (NSW) – Deaf Australian of the Year (Deaf Australia)
- Jordanna Smith (NSW) – Emerging Leader (National Disability Award)
- Drisana Levitzke-Gray (WA) – winner of WA Young Australian of the Year.
- Colin Allen (NSW) – Nominee to Presidency of the World Federation of the Deaf
- Communication Republic – Fair Go Award (Deaf Australia)
- Vicdeaf and Victoria Emergency Services – Inclusion award (National Disability Award)